By Mike Bernier
Photos: David Gallardo / Worldkid Promotions
The debut of Worldkid Promotions at the Aviator Center in Brooklyn brought excitement to the local fight scene. 2008 US Olympian, Sadam ‘Worldkid’ Ali (15-0, 9 KO’s) of Brooklyn destroyed Franklin Gonzalez (15-10, 11 KO’s) of Brooklyn in the final 38 seconds of the final round for the WBU Welterweight Championship. The fight between to the two fighters was what this card needed to save the night. Ali promoted this card under his Worldkid Promotions title in order to stay active without having to sign with a major promoter at this point in his young career. Being the promoter Ali had issues with fights being scraped days before the event.
As Ali said after the fight, “A lot of fights fell out, we only had five fights. That was a little nerve-racking. But when you have a good team behind you, have people who love you, it’s not so hard and you stay focused.” 24 rounds were scheduled with Ali-Gonzalez scheduled for 8 and the remaining bouts scheduled for 4 rounds.
Ali started off slow allowing himself to get caught by Franklin’s looping right hand within the first 20 seconds of round 1. Ali finished the round strong with combinations to Gonzalez’s midsection. The next round the crowd in attendance were chanting “ALI, ALI, ALI” after he landed a multiple punch combination on Gonzalez. Ali began to warm up, seeking to destroy his opponent. To hear your name chanted in front of a hometown crowd can only help motivate fighters to perform at their best. “I’ve heard it before but I never heard it in Brooklyn. I heard the cheering of…PLEASE DO SOMETHING, PLEASE KNOCK THIS GUY DOWN! I want to see something exciting. That was the vibe I was getting. I was missing shots because I was so anxious to make them happy. At the end I figured it out and got it done,” said Ali.
Gonzalez was in defense mode in Round 4 and took a lot of shots. In round 5 Ali continued to work the body of Franklin. Franklin could only manage one punch at a time. When Franklin tried to throw a two punch combination he pulled back to protect from Ali’s counter punch. In Round 6 Franklin continued to take punishment from Ali. Gonzalez was visibly discouraged and was looking at his corner for guidance throughout the fight. At this point Ali was teeing off on Gonzalez with big punches, taking advice from his fellow Brooklynite and newly crowned WBA Welterweight Champion, Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi who watched the fight ring side with media. Ali winked at Malignaggi after landing a combination Malignaggi was calling for just before the end of round 6. In round 7 the crowd was yelling for the knock out. It was electric inside the venue while both fighters continue to trade all or nothing punches at each other. Gonzalez survived the round but in Round 8 Ali closed the show with two knockdowns before the referee waved it off. “It feels good, it hasn’t hit me yet. I don’t realize I got a belt on right now. Hopefully in the future I’ll have the World title belt. This is a step up for me, I’m still climbing the ladder, and in the future you’ll see more.” Ali expects to be back in the ring within 3 months.
In the co-feature fight of the night Jennifer Santiago (1-0) (119 lbs) of Brooklyn made her pro debut when she took on Mikayla Nebel (0-2) (120 lbs) of Columbus, OH. Santiago won every round on the judges’ score cards by fighting relaxed and landing more shots on her opponent. The final round was action packed with both fighters full of energy.
Steven Gamache (3-0) (151 lbs) of Manhattan won all rounds against his opponent Willie Bryant (0-4-1) (152 lbs) of Mayflower, AR. Gamache started off the fight landing often with straight lefts and right hooks to Bryant’s unprotected head. In round 3 Gamache continued to land a clean right uppercut when Bryant lunged forward.
Armin ‘The Bosnian Prince’ Mrkanovic (3-1) of Brooklyn overwhelmed Daniel Pietch (0-1) of Columbus, OH making his pro debut. Mrkanovic entered the ring resembling a body builder with bulging biceps and ripped back muscles. This body type served Mrkanovic well allowing him to land early in the first round with straight right hands to Pietch’s head. Pietch gained confidence in-between rounds fought round 2 aggressively trading with Mrkanovic. In round 3 Pietch who fought with his heart on his sleeve was getting landed on often which caused blood to start smearing his nose. The blood set Mrkanovic into a punching frenzy while Pietch waved him on. Mrkanvic respected Pietch’s motivation and smile back. In round 4 Mrkanoic landed a multiple punch combination causing the referee to waive off the fight and save Pietch from taking any more of a beating.
In the first bout on the card two fighters made their pro debut. Akil Frederick-Auguste (1-0) (159 lbs) of Brooklyn, took on Jamil Gadsden (0-1) (156 lbs). In the first minute of round 1 Frederick-Auguste landed a powerful overhead right hand to put Gadsden down. Frederick-Auguste ended the fight by scoring two knockdowns summoning the referee to waive off the fight.